PHILADELPHIA - Schuylkill County knew about and should have stopped harassment by its chair of commissioners, according to a ruling in a discrimination investigation.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found Commissioner Chairman George Halcovage engaged in "egregious sexual harassment" and created a hostile work environment for a group of female employees since at least 2018, according to a letter from the commission.

The EEOC said evidence shows the county knew or should have known about his behavior, and that even after his conduct was formally reported and corroborated, the county failed to take action to stop it.

The women said they have been and continue to be retaliated against for reporting the harassment complaints. An attorney says two of the women have been suspended indefinitely from their jobs.

The county had argued that once it learned of the alleged harassment from a May 2020 complaint, it took steps to investigate and remedy the situation.

The EEOC disagreed, saying the county subjected the group of women to sexual harassment and created a hostile work environment, the letter says.

The EEOC will give the county the opportunity to voluntarily remedy the "unlawful employment practices" through a conciliation agreement, the commission said.

The agreement must be approved by the EEOC, the letter said.

If the county does not attempt conciliation or the commission does not approve of the agreement, then the EEOC will move to court-enforceable options.

A civil lawsuit filed against Halcovage lists hundreds of allegations, and a county probe found he violated sexual harassment policies.

Halcovage has rejected calls for his resignation, but did step down as chairman of the county's board of commissioners.

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